A pull buoy is a flotation device used in swimming. It is inserted between the thighs near the crotch area. It is generally made from closed cell foam, and comes in two forms – single piece and two-piece. The former is designed as a single solid piece in the shape of the ‘number 8’. The latter is made with two separate cylindrical pieces of foam which are joined together by a rope or band. The swimmer can adjust it so it fits between his/her legs properly. The single piece is not adjustable, though once placed, it does not slide easily between the legs.
A pull buoy is primarily used to develop strong arms which can provide good upper body strength. Holding it between the thighs helps keep the swimmer’s legs and lower half of the body afloat, and he/she can then use all his/her strength and concentrate on building the upper body muscles.
How to Make Effective Use of a Pull Buoy
Once you are in the pool and ready to swim, take the buoy and slide it between your thighs. In case you have a two-piece pull buoy or leg float, adjust the bands or straps so that the two foam pieces are placed properly. Make sure they are not placed very close, nor too apart from each other. To start swimming, cross your ankles and let the float do its job by propelling your legs upwards. Once your legs are afloat, swim by pulling with your arms. Be sure to keep your legs pressed together in a straight line, with the toes pointing outward in the same fashion.
Benefits of Using a Pull Buoy
Using a buoy in your everyday swimming workout improves form and technique. A swimmer can attain a good posture by keeping the lower limbs afloat near the top of water, which assists in achieving the correct body posture, which is one of the most important aspects of swimming. Buoyancy causes a shift in body position, and this drives swimmers to maintain their bodies in line. If you are swimming without a wetsuit, buoys or leg floats will come in handy, since they impart a similar buoyant feeling of wearing a wetsuit. People with heavy legs will find it easier to swim with a float, or if you are exhausted and feel your legs are dragging you down, a buoy can come to your rescue. If you really want to gain that upper body strength, try this – along with a pull buoy, tie elastic straps around your ankles when you swim. This will severely restrict the free movement of the lower half of your body and prevent you from kicking freely, and in turn, you will have to make optimal use of your arms and torso to propel yourself through the water.
Individuals with hip and leg injuries are often advised to undertake swimming, since it is also one of the best sports for rehab and conditioning. Such sports persons should ideally make use of the leg float or buoy, especially since using it will definitely make the lower half of the body feel much lighter. A word of caution here – people who have suffered shoulder or neck injuries should abstain from using a buoy, since exerting force on your arms and upper torso can aggravate the condition.
Using the buoy will help you float on your stomach and focus on using your arms efficiently, since it isolates your arms and legs, and forces you to use your arms which is the key in training parts of your body individually.
As with any new swimming device and technique, it is recommended that you consult with your trainer or swimming coach for the best practices you can implement. Incorrect use can put unnecessary strain on the back and shoulders. If you have never used a buoy or float before, try using one during your daily swimming session to improve endurance, muscle strength, and swimming techniques. Experiment with a different swimming technique so your workouts don’t become a drag. Try out new drills and shake up your workouts.